Arrests in Tenn. May be Linked to Attempted Conn. Bank Heist | NECN
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Arrests in Tenn. May be Linked to Attempted Conn. Bank Heist

There's a new twist in a bizarre attempted bank robbery that ended with a fake bomb strapped to a man in New Britain. Two men behind bars in Tennessee are now being looked at as possible suspects. (Published Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016)

There's a new twist in a bizarre attempted bank robbery that ended with a fake bomb strapped to a man in New Britain. Two men behind bars in Tennessee are now being looked at as possible suspects.

Last February two masked men broke into a credit union manager's home in Bristol, strapped a fake explosive device to Matthew Yussman, a 46-year-old bank manager, and tied his mom to a bed, authorities said.

Yussman has been under investigation since he was found outside the Achieve Financial Credit Union in New Britain on Feb. 23, strapped with what appeared to be an explosive device.

Yussman's 70-year-old mother described finding her son face down in the garage at their Bristol home with his hands tied. She allegedly overheard two assailants saying they owed money and would kill Yussman and his mother if they didn't pay up.

Police said the intruders demanded Yussman drive them to Achieve Financial Credit Union in New Britain and empty the vault, but eventually the suspects fled with nothing.

Shortly after the incident, FBI started to investigate the case. 

Now a senior law enforcement official tells NBC Connecticut that investigators are looking into whether suspects arrested in Tennessee are linked to the incident in Connecticut.

Tennessee investigators say 45-year-old Brian Witham and 43-year-old Michael Benanti committed similar crimes in their state: multiple attempts to extort money from federal credit union employees by taking family members hostage.

On Tuesday, Witham appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to all 15 federal charges. Federal prosecutors there declined to comment on any Connecticut connection.

An alleged trail of crimes spanning across states might not be that far-fetched. Prosecutors in Tennessee have pointed out that when the men were captured in North Carolina, they had a list of names and addresses for bank officials from South Carolina.

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